You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2014.

houston astrosLos Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Although it’s known as “the City of Angels,” Los Angeles has always had a seamier side, and even revelled in it. Those people who raged against the sin of the big city and its movie industry, and who mostly avoided both by living in LA’s sprawling suburbs, were disparagingly called “Angels,” and were accused of being hypocrites for benefitting from the wealth that Hollywood brought to the area, while publicly holding their noses at the scandals and deal-making that have always been a part of Tinseltown. They were LA wannabes, and none were worse than the California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels baseball team, who took screen legend Gene Autry’s money but cultivated a “real American” vibe as opposed to the glitz of the Dodgers, while moving closer and closer over the years to acknowledging their true LA heart through regular name changes. Now owned by Disney, the happy face of Hollywood, the Angels are still seen by many as holier-than-thou, although they and their parent company are just as sleazy as anyone in LA.

Texas Rangers – Sure, the Texas Rangers are renowned law men, the southern equivalent of the Mounties who always get their man. But what you might not know is that the baseball team were not named for the dispensers of frontier justice, but actually after the character of Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. The baseball team intended for the association to be with the Aragorn who was crowned king, but until the Rangers win a World Series, they are more likely to bring to mind the mysterious and untrustworthy Strider.

Oakland Athletics – An archaic term for nudists, “athletics” was bestowed upon the team in their original home of Philadelphia, when they were accused of practising in the buff. Although naked athletes were common in ancient Greece, it has never been commonly accepted in the United States, which helps explain why the team has changed cities more than once.

Houston Astros – the Astros were named in honour of the NASA astronauts, since the headquarters for the American space program is located in the city. Not everyone, however, was inspired by President Kennedy’s call to land a man on the moon; the USA has a higher preponderance of creationists, flat earthers, and other followers of discredited belief systems than any developed country in the world, and many Americans resented NASA for questioning their faith that there was nothing beyond the Earth. “Planet Earth not good enough for ya, Astro-Nut?” they’d say, and many still do.

Seattle Mariners – Few groups are as loathed as sailors and Mormons, and in Washington State, they’ve managed to combine their mistrust of both into a single slur: “mariner.” It combines the lawlessness and promiscuity of sailors with the lawfulness and bigamy of Mormons into one catch-all. Why anyone in the state would think of naming a baseball team “Mariners” is beyond me. What was wrong with “Pilots”?

IMG_0856.JPG

national league eastNew York Mets – In what seems to be a New York tradition, with basketball’s Knicks being short for “Knickerbockers,” football’s Jets having evolved from “Jetsams,” and hockey’s Rangers shortening their name from “Rangerettes” in 1962, baseball’s Mets team name is really the Metropolitans, which is about as hard to fit on a jersey as “Saltalamacchia.” But the full name is also avoided because of its association with the sort of stuffy, pretentious, and pedantic New Yorkers portrayed in Whit Stillman’s 1990 film Metropolitan, who are much more likely to be Yankees fans.

Atlanta Braves – This is the only team name in Major League Baseball with no negative associations. Absolutely nothing offensive here… what’s that? The “Tomahawk Chop”? <cringes>

Philadelphia Phillies – Most people assume that the name “Phillies” is simply a diminutive for the city in which they play, but most people are wrong, so very, very wrong. Philadelphia may be the City of Brotherly Love, but it’s always been a union town, top to bottom. In their early history, the Phillies played second fiddle to the Athletics and struggled to succeed on the field and at the turnstiles. Looking for any edge, while at the same time always trying to keep costs low, the team excelled at locking out any player who even hinted at holding out for more money, and filling their roster spot with strikebreakers. In 1887, the team fielded an entire team of “fill-ins,” who may have been horrible players, but cost very little. The nickname stuck, eventually evolving into “Phillies,” and losing its connection with scab labour.

Miami Marlins – As the nascent United States expanded and sought to exert its control over the North American continent, one of its most frequent opponents were the various Native tribes that predated the arrival of European settlers, including the Seminoles in the area that was to become Florida. Young and inexperienced soldiers made up the bulk of the troops sent to pacify the newly-acquired territory, and they were particularly brutal, especially the infantry, many of whom were accused of zealously bayoneting their opponents, even in cold blood as they kneeled to surrender. Similarly, the modern Marlins baseball team is known to steal signs.

Washington Nationals – Although Washington, D.C. had a long, if not proud, baseball tradition (“first in war, first in peace, last in the American League” aptly describes the futility of the city’s teams), the city had been without a Major League team since the Senators left in the 1970s. Although there was general excitement at the prospect of the return of the national pastime to the nation’s capital, it came at a time of rising xenophobia and protectionism, and many fans were less than impressed that the team chosen to represent Washington would be a foreign import: Montréal’s struggling Expos. The decision to ignore history and name the relocated team “Nationals”–rather than the historic “Senators”–has led many disillusioned fans to decry their team as “Foreign Nationals” and “Immigrants in the Ootfield” (an inaccurate and unfunny attempt to make fun of supposed Canadian accents), particularly when they’ve struggled to win games.

Flickr Photos

Twitter Updates

  • The House Unamerican Activities Committee: did they ever think "maybe we oughtta look at the KKK"? 20 hours ago
  • I'll be in Windsor this weekend, when do you open on Saturday for soccer @Manchester_buzz ? Looking to watch Chelsea game 1 week ago
  • Man, it's a hot one. Like 17.5cm from the midday sun. 1 month ago
  • You'd better believe I have ongoing feuds with the TV too, but who'd listen to me? 1 month ago
  • I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die. Bad idea! Turns out that's illegal, even in Nevada. 1 month ago

Blog Stats

  • 84,218 hits

Pages

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 90 other followers